Energy News

Getting Off the Grid: IKEA Leads the Way in Wind Energy

(3BL Media and Just Means)-The Windy City is about to get windier. And hopefully, less reliant on fossil fuels.  IKEA recently announced their purchase of Hoopeston Wind, a wind farm of 49 wind turbines near Hoopeston in Vermilion County, two hours south of Chicago.  The purchase is the first wind power investment IKEA has made in the USA and their largest renewable energy project ever.

Coca Cola is the David that the Slingshot Needs.



"The Slingshot is the little tool that David needs to defeat Goliath"—Dean Kamen.

Florida’s Untapped Solar Power

(3BL Media/Just Means) I've spent the summer living in historic St. Augustine, Florida. The surf is great, the people are friendly and the sun shines brightly every single day. The sun is powerful here, powerful enough it seems to produce enough solar energy for most of the nation.

Blackouts, More Than Efficiency, Drive Smart Grid Growth

(3BL Media/Justmeans) We’ve been hearing about the potential wonders of the Smart Grid for several years now. It will save energy, make utility operations more streamlined, support renewables and save money for consumers. All these things are true, and they will be even more important in the years ahead as the impacts of climate change are felt more strongly. But blackouts are happening right now, and they are costing utilities money. That seems to be the primary driver for many power companies to begin investing in technology today.

According to the Energy Information Administration (EIA), power outages cost US businesses $150 billion per year. The number of blackouts has increased 285% since 1984 and their duration, here in the US, is the longest among industrialized countries.

Why is that? There are two reasons. First, there is more power going through our electric grid than ever before. Second, and most important, the grid is getting old.

The U.S. electrical grid, once considered a marvel, is becoming a dinosaur. Going back over 60 years, some of the designs date back to Edison himself. It consists of some 7,000 power plants pushing electrons out over 450,000 miles of transmission lines, to businesses and homes that are interconnected by some 2.5 million miles of feeder lines. According to the Edison Electric Institute, it is worth $876 billion, though the value of what it produces is incalculable.

It was built for a time and a scale when things could be done manually. Meter readers would go from house to house reading mechanical meters, and linemen could inspect the lines to see where repairs were needed. Today, it has become too big and too indispensable for that.

ACEEE Ranks World’s Largest Economies on Energy Efficiency

(3Bl Media/Justmeans) - We see a lot of analyses and projections showing why renewables, despite their rapid growth will not be able to provide sufficient energy to allow us to get off fossil fuels or nuclear for decades to come. Those analyses are based on assumptions regarding population growth, economic development and rate of energy consumption on a per capita basis.

But if you look at disparities in energy consumption, not just the obvious ones—developed vs. developing countries, but rather between countries and states with similar quality of life, we can see that there are still tremendous opportunities to be in exploited with regard to how efficiently we use energy. As an example, the state of Texas, uses 50% more energy than California, despite California’s 48% larger population.

If forecasts and projections were based on the best populations, who are bound to get even better, rather than the average, these renewable goals might begin to look far more achievable

The American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE) just completed a ranking of the 16 largest economies in the world. Results are somewhat surprising. The US, which likes to think of itself as technologically advanced, actually ranked 13th out of 16, while China, despite its sizeable growing pains, managed to achieve a 4th place rank.

Below is the list in order.

1.            Germany                

2.            Italy

3.            EU

4.            China

5.            France

6.            Japan

7.            UK

8.            Spain

9.            Canada

10.          Australia

11.          India

12.          South Korea

13.          US

14.          Russia

15.          Brazil

16.          Mexico

The ranking are based on thirty-one metrics, divided between policy metrics, which they call national efforts (e.g. national energy savings target, fuel economy standards) and performance metrics (e.g.  Average mpg, energy per square foot in buildings). State and local policies were not included. Performance metrics were divided between Buildings, Industry, and Transportation. These four categories were equally weighted, receiving 25 points apiece.

Microsoft Announces its Largest Wind Investment to Date

(3BL Media/Justmeans) – Global corporations are picking up speed to make a shift towards renewable sources of energy in order to reduce their environmental footprint. Some of the major technology companies such as Microsoft, Google and Facebook have started a new trend of sponsoring entire wind farms as a part of this shift.

World Leaders Challenged to Address Climate Change by NYC March

Reposter.net, April 2011(3BL Media and Just Means) - Tens of thousands of people are expected to march alongside environmentalist Bill McKibben in New York City on September 20 and 21st.  In a recently published article he wrote in Rolling Stone, “A Call to Arms: An Invitation to Demand Action on Climate Change,” McKibben invited all to join him to make a ‘loud movement,’ lifting banners that say  “CLIMATE/JOBS. TWO CRISES, ONE SOLUTION.”

Supercapacitors Poised For a Major Clean Energy Impact

(3Bl Media/Justmeans) As an engineer, I was immediately impressed by the potential of supercapacitors in a clean energy future once I became aware of their capabilities. Much of that insight came from a conversation I had with Chad Hall, founder of supercapacitor maker Ioxus.

The reasoning goes something like this. We can get to a cleaner economy by substituting electrical devices for fossil fuel powered ones. Technically, that’s not a problem as long as we can plug things into the power grid. But for portable devices, like, for example, vehicles, we need to rely on batteries or some other type of portable energy storage, like hydrogen.

Batteries have limitations. Their characteristics depend upon the chemical reaction they are based on. Typically, we have to choose between their ability to hold a charge for a long time, giving a vehicle extended range, or the ability to deliver a substantial burst of power, providing vehicle performance. Today’s batteries have to trade-off between these two attributes which are known in the vernacular as energy density and power density.

This is where supercapacitors come in. These devices are like small batteries that can hold energy for a short time, but can deliver a tremendous burst of power. A supercapacitor, which typically has only one-tenth the energy density of a Li-ion battery, has ten times the power density. When paired with a battery that has been engineered for long range, you can get the best of both worlds.

Supercapacitor performance can be quite impressive. When paired with a 520 Hp gas engine in Toyota’s TS040 hybrid drag racing car, a supercapacitor can add a burst of 480 Hp through a pair of electric motors, bringing the instantaneous total up to 1000 Hp. The vehicle is designed to recharge the supercapacitor when braking.

These capabilities are beginning to find their way into conventional cars, both in regular and stop-start or soft hybrids. Toyota, Peugeot and BMW are all working on incorporating this technology into passenger car designs.

Pages

Subscribe to Energy